“Come and Take a Walk”: Listening to Early Head Start Parents on School-Readiness as a Matter of Child, Family, and Community Health

American Journal of Public Health(95)4, 617-625

April 2005


McAllister, C. L., Wilson, P. C., Green, B. L., & Baldwin, J. L.

We explored the perspectives and experiences of low-income, predominantly African American families regarding children’s school-readiness. Our research, which involved qualitative interviews, ethnographic case studies, and “photovoice” methods, focused on families participating in the national evaluation of Early Head Start. While valuing academic skills, study parents emphasized the importance of social and emotional health in regard to both children’s and parents’ readiness to begin school. These developments are especially critical given the challenges parents perceive in local school environments. On the basis of a social ecology framework, we argue that psychological and environmental dimensions of school-readiness are public health matters and that understanding the perspectives of low-income and minority parents on such issues is a critical aspect of health communication dedicated to eliminating health disparities.

Associated Staff

Beth L. Green